Monthly Archives: January 2011


Just for starters, lets say it so everyone knows where this posting is coming from:

Because Windpower energy is unreliable and thus cannot be scheduled as necessary  for transmission to customers, it does not make any significant addition to the US energy supply base.  Presently, it thrives only because financial slight of hand (subsidies) and legislative mandates requiring that it be part of the utility’s energy mix.  Moreover, and somewhat ironically, it does not result in a reduction of CO2 from fossil fuel burning; in fact it usually requires additional fossil fuel based generating capacity to provide the backup.

Until such time as reliable and economic energy storages systems are developed wind energy will be an expensive burden to the ratepayers.    If the government wants do spend my money to develop alternative energy sources, put it where it will have real value—energy storage.

Jon Boone posted “Oxymoronic Windpower (Part II:Windspeak)” on the MasterResource site and lists reasons why windpower is not presently a viable energy source:

Let’s examine the evidence.

1.Despite more than 100,000 huge wind turbines in operation around the world, with about 35,000 in North America, no coal plants have been closed because of wind technology. In fact, many more coal plants are in the offing, both in the US and throughout the world. Moreover, a Colorado energetics company, Bentek, recently published a study about wind in Texas and Colorado showing, in its study areas, that wind volatility caused coal plants to perform more inefficiently, “often resulting in greater SO2, NOx, and CO2 emissions than would have occurred if less wind energy were generated and coal generation was not cycled.” Further examination of fuel use for electricity in both states during the time of inquiry suggested that wind caused no reduction in coal consumption.

2.Unpredictable, undispatchable, volatile wind can provide for neither baseload nor peak load situations. It can only be an occasional supplement that itself requires much supplementation. Consequently, as Australian engineer Peter Lang once wrote, since “wind cannot contribute to the capital investment in generating plants… [it] simply is an additional capital investment.”

3.Wind technology does NOT represent alternate energy. Since wind cannot provide controllable power and has no capacity value, it cannot be an alternative for machines that do provide controllable power and high capacity value. Wind therefore is incapable of entering into a zero-sum relationship with fossil-fired capacity—that is, more wind, less coal. All other conditions being equal (demand, supply, weather, etc), more wind generally means more coal.

4.None of the considerable public subsidies for wind, indeed, not even state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) laws, are indexed to measured reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Consequently, there is no transparency or accountability for how wind technology will achieve the goals set forth by those policy initiatives. This means that corporations with a lot of fossil-fired marketshare to protect have no obligation to replace it with wind. And they don’t. Because they can’t. Freedom from responsibility is a child’s fairy tale dream come true.

5.The work of a number of independent engineers—Hawkins, Lang, Oswald, Le Pair and De Groot—suggests that even the most effective fossil fuel pairing with wind, natural gas, will very marginally reduce overall natural gas consumption beyond what would occur using only natural gas generators, without any wind whatsoever.

6.Because oil provides barely 1% of the nation’s electricity, wind represents no threat to oil’s marketshare.

Regarding point no. 2 above,  the operator of the electrical distribution system has to provide power that meets the customer’s quantity demand very precisely at a steady voltage and frequency.  With coal, natural gas or hydro the base load can be managed.   To manage the demand peaks and valleys, natural gas turbines are often used as they can be brought on line or taken off line rather rapidly.  These facilities are under the control of power plant operations. Wind however is not controllable.  Sometimes the wind blows,  sometimes it doesn’t and it can change in a matter of minutes from high speed wind to medium speed wind to no wind and vice versa.

If a reliable and cost effective energy storage system were available,   the  windpower unit could direct its production into that system.  The storage system would allow the windpower unit to take advantage of the days when the wind was blowing forcefully and store the power.  This would significantly raise the ratio of delivered power as a function of rated power.  The electrical distribution system operators would know how much power was available and could  schedule it from the storage system.

Alas, no such energy storage system is currently available.



Propelled by the Climategate email scandal, cooling global temperatures, total failure of the Copenhagen climate conference, many false and otherwise erroneous reports in the IPCC 4th report on Climate Change, etc. the public is becoming aware of the bill of goods that has been feed to them in recent years by the mainstream media, Al Gore, and politicians of all stripes who want to tax and regulate you. Polls show waning  support for draconian taxes and regulation  in order to cut fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

This past week, the BBC aired a program they produced titled “Science Under Attack”.   The objective of the program was to bolster the man-made global warming theory (AGW).

So how good was the BBC’s “Science Under Attack”?

A desperate and sleazy program according to Christopher Booker as told in his posting “How BBC warmists abuse the science”:

The formula the BBC uses in its forlorn attempts to counterattack has been familiar ever since its 2008 series Climate Wars. First, a presenter with some scientific credentials comes on, apparently to look impartially at the evidence. Supporters of the cause are allowed to put their case without challenge. Hours of film of climate-change “deniers” are cherrypicked for soundbites that can be shown, out of context, to make them look ridiculous. The presenter can then conclude that the “deniers” are a tiny handful of eccentrics standing out against an overwhelming scientific “consensus”.

The scientist picked to front the progamme was Sir Paul Nurse, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, now President of the Royal Society (which has been promoting warmist orthodoxy even longer than the BBC). The cue to justify the programme’s title was all the criticism which greeted those Climategate emails leaked from Sir Paul’s old university, East Anglia, showing how scientists had been manipulating their data to support the claim that temperatures have recently risen to unprecedented levels.

One of the two “deniers” chosen to be stitched up, in classic BBC fashion, was the Telegraph’s James Delingpole. He has spoken for his own experience on our website. Still worse, however, was the treatment of Professor Fred Singer, the distinguished 86-year-old atmospheric physicist who set up the satellite system for the US National Weather Bureau. We saw Nurse cosying up to Singer in a coffee house, then a brief clip of the professor explaining how a particular stalagmite study had shown temperature fluctuations correlating much more neatly with solar activity than with levels of CO2. This snippet enabled Nurse to imply that Singer’s scepticism is based on one tiny local example, whereas real scientists look at the overall big picture. No mention of the 800-page report edited by Singer in which dozens of expert scientists challenge the CO2 orthodoxy from every angle.

For those that attend to the Climate Change Sanity postings routinely  (see) will instantly spot how poor the programming was and how little about the subject, Sir Paul Nurse knows when your read the following Booker comments:

The most telling moment, however, came in an interview between Nurse and a computer-modelling scientist from Nasa, presented as a general climate expert although he is only a specialist in ice studies. Asked to quantify the relative contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere by human and natural causes, his seemingly devastating reply was that 7 gigatons (billion tons) are emitted each year by human activity while only 1 gigaton comes from natural sources such as the oceans. This was so much the message they wanted that Nurse invited him to confirm that human emissions are seven times greater than those from all natural sources.

This was mind-boggling. It is generally agreed that the 7 billion tonnes of CO2 due to human activity represent just over 3 per cent of the total emitted. That given off by natural sources, such as the oceans, is vastly greater than this, more than 96 per cent of the total. One may argue about the “carbon cycle” and how much CO2 the oceans and plants reabsorb. But, as baldly stated, the point was simply a grotesque misrepresentation, serving, like many of the programme’s other assertions, only to give viewers a wholly misleading impression.

You can read James Delingpoles discussion of the Nurse “gotcha interview” here.

For 10 years Peter Sissons was the BBC evening news anchor.   In his recently published memoirs, he says:

“The BBC became a propaganda machine for climate change zealots, and I was treated as a lunatic for daring to dissent”.

The BBC and the Warmists desperation in producing a program like this is palpable and it argues strongly that the BBC has lost its integrity.



In the previous posting, College Students Lack Scientific Literacy?, we took a quick look at the role of photosynthesis in the Carbon Cycle.  This posting  will examine the part that burning of fossil fuels play in the carbon cycle and how fossil fuel CO2 affects global warming.

There are those who believe that catastrophic heating of the Earth will result if fossil fuels use is not curbed or perhaps stopped all together.  They think that the extra increment of CO2 from fossil will cause the climate to reach a “tipping point” after which there may be no turning back.

So what is the argument about between skeptics and believers?

Broadly speaking the believers have looked for a cause of a temperature increase of something less than 1C  during the last century.   They say that the measured volume of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has gone up coincident with the temperature increase and that since CO2 is a known greenhouse gas, it must be the cause.   And they add that CO2 from industrial and transportation sources, a product of fossil fuel combustion,  is the reason for the atmospheric CO2 increase from the past “steady-state” measurements.

Skeptics, while accepting that the Earth’s temperature has increased in the last century, so has it for the last 10,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age.  And further,  this cold to warm and return to cold has been going on for hundred thousands of years, so the last century’s warming is probably due mostly to natural causes.   Skeptics say that the past history of temperature increases and CO2 variation as charted from the examination of ancient ice cores show the temperature change leads CO2 change both increasing and decreasing.  Stated in another way,  CO2 follows a change in temperature rather than leading the change. By the way, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” movie did show it the other way but it is widely agreed that was wrong as was so much  else of that science fiction documentary.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is very small, and the CO2 increment from fossil fuel burning is about 3% of the total atmospheric CO2 content.  If pressed the believers will agree that the primary greenhouse gas is not CO2, but rather water in the form of vapor and clouds.  From 90 to 95% of the greenhouse gas effect results from water in the atmosphere.

An interesting way to look at the CO2 versus water has been made by Art Horn  in his posting “The Utter Futility of Reducing Carbon Emissions”which can be seen by clicking here.  This  posting looks at the Carbon Cycle and it uses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as the data source.  This panel is the believer’s bible.   Quoting from his posting:

“…….the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment showed that 3% of the atmospheric CO2 comes from man-made sources. Global gross primary production and respiration, land use changes, plus CO2 from the oceans totals 213 gigatonnes of carbon exchanged each year between the Earth/oceans and the atmosphere. The IPCC figure also shows man-made carbon emissions to be about 7 gigatonnes, bringing the total to 220 gigatonnes per year. So from this, we can see that making energy from fossil fuels is producing about 3% of the carbon dioxide added to the air each year. From that, the total human component of the greenhouse effect is therefore about 3% of the total carbon dioxide component of the greenhouse effect, which is 8%.

That gives us a value of .2% from man-made carbon dioxide. If you think that’s a small number you’re right.”

A little more simple science is necessary to get this picture.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) effect

To begin with, the simplest view is that GHG is a study of “energy inenergy out”.  The “energy in” is the radiation from the Sun—sunlight, infrared (IR) and ultraviolet  (UV)—that is absorbed by the Earth.  The Earth then radiates this energy back out into space.  On its way back out into space, some of it is delayed by interaction with trace elements in the atmosphere. This interaction increases the temperature of the atmosphere, and the Earth’s temperature rises. The greenhouse effect is real and it allows life, as we know it, to exist.  If the Earth had no atmosphere,  its temperature would be 255K (-18C).  The average temperature of the entire Earth averaged over seasons is, by measurement, about 288K (15C).  Thus the greenhouse effect results in an increase in temperature of about 33K (33C).

Lets look at GHG in more detail.  The Sun energy in the form of visable light, IR, and UV (shortwaves) pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and are absorbed by the ocean, the land, the trees, concrete, road surfaces, etc.  Not all of the Suns energy  makes it to the Earth’s surface due to clouds and surface reflection, along with atmospheric scatter that represent a blockage.  When the Sun’s input ceases, at night for example, these Earth objects begin to emit electromagnetic radiation.  This radiation is in the infrared range but because the temperatures of the objects are much lower than that of the Sun, the wave lengths are different.  They are much longer.  For our purposes the Earth’s radiation will be called the longwaves.

The interaction of the trace compounds in our atmosphere with the outgoing longwave radiation is dictated by atomic absorption.  Each compound  in the atmosphere has a specific wave length band(s) that it absorbs.  If the compound’s wave lengths correspond to the wave lengths of some of the IR radiated from the Earth’s surface, the IR waves can be absorbed. Those IR waves are converted to heat causing the compound to emit IR of a different wave length. The compound is transparent to other IR wave lengths.

Water, CO2 and Methane will absorb IR wave lengths emitted from the Earth.    Of the emitted IR waves that are absorbed, it is estimated that some 4%to 6% are by CO2.  The CO2 greenhouse effect is limited because the wave lengths that CO2 absorbs only represent a small part of the wave length ranges of the reemitted IR from the Earth. In fact, adding more CO2 to the atmosphere has only limited significance because the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere is nearly sufficient to absorb those particular Earth originated IR waves.

Well, why do the believers think that CO2 will cause the very high Earth temperatures they trot out frequently to scare all the rest of us.  They agree that water is the primary greenhouse gas.   They think that the little upward bumps in temperature that are possible if more CO2 is added to the atmosphere will result in more water vapor in the atmosphere.  They know that CO2 can’t do the deed so they have programmed their computers models (GCM) to  gee-up lots of water vapor to do the deed. This amplification of the total greenhouse gases (GHG) is called positive feedback. Using this positive feedback, the GCMs forecast climate out some 100 years or more and conclude that global temperatures will rise dramatically.   The problem is that this positive feedback is difficult to impossible to demonstrate in the real world.  (Basically the world abhors positive feed back.) Meanwhile a negative feedback has been shown to exist in real world, making run-away global temperatures quiet unlikely.

In summary,

Very little of the CO2 in the atmosphere is due to the burning of fossil fuels.

The  GHG effect is primarily due to water as vapor or clouds

CO2 can only absorb  a limited portion of  the Earth’s radiated IR

The Believers proclamations of catastrophic weather conditions are based computer programs. Those computer predictions that were done sufficiently long ago to be meaningful as a predictions,  have been notorious failures.

And the concept of Positive Feedback  increasing water in the atmosphere resulting in large increases in the Earth’s temperature is a fiction of the computer program as it has not yet been proved in real experimental work.



Last week was one of lows and highs.  I went back to South Dakota to say my goodbyes to my sister. She passed away some 7 hours after I got to the hospital. The highs were the young people that gathered for the funeral.  Mainly grandchildren and other kin of my sister. The children ranged from grade school to Grad school to graduated and off to work.   After spending time with them, it seems clear that we will be putting our nation into good hands.

Some probably do not share my political philosophy, However, I am hopeful that Winston Churchill’s view of the stages of life will play out when he said,  “If you are young and not a liberal, you have no heart.  If you are growing old and are not a conservative, you have no brain.”

But brains they do have no mater their political philosophy.   And those that have thought about Climate Change have open minds.

After reading the result of a recent Michigan State study, which concluded that College Students lack scientific literacy, I wondered if there are college students or grads, unlike my Sister’s kin, that do not have open minds and need a little background to begin formulating their own opinion about climate change.

Quoting the MSU researchers:

The researchers assessed the fundamental science knowledge of more than 500 students at 13 U.S. colleges in courses ranging from introductory biology to advanced ecology.

Most students did not truly understand the processes that transform carbon. They failed to apply principles such as the conservation of matter, which holds that when something changes chemically or physically, the amount of matter at the end of the process needs to equal the amount at the beginning. (Matter doesn’t magically appear or disappear.)

Students trying to explain weight loss, for example, could not trace matter once it leaves the body; instead they used informal reasoning based on their personal experiences (such as the fat “melted away” or was “burned off”). In reality, the atoms in fat molecules leave the body (mostly through breathing) and enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and water.

Most students also incorrectly believe plants obtain their mass from the soil rather than primarily from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. “When you see a tree growing,” Anderson said, “it’s a lot easier to believe that tree is somehow coming out of the soil rather than the scientific reality that it’s coming out of the air.”

The oxygen we breathe is primarily released from plants when photosynthesis takes place breaking the CO2 molecule, recombining it with water to produce a sugar.  The excess oxygen from the photosynthesis reaction is now a waste product and expelled to the atmosphere.

The above Graph is a product of

Without atmospheric CO2, there would be no plants.  Without plants there would be no life on this planet.   It offends me when I read media articles that call CO2 a POLLUTANT.

Because the Researcher’s objective for this work is to gain acolytes to the Church of Man Made Global Warming, my next posting will be to show that CO2 is not a big factor in the Greenhouse effect.

To read the MSU press release click here.



In the two prior postings Sun and Climate,Parts 1 and 2,  we have talked about Solar Activity and how it relates to climate.  In Part 1, the discussion was primarily about Solar Insolation, and Part 2 began the discussion about solar activity using Sunspots as a proxy.   Sunspots are popularly used to indicate Solar activity due to their longevity.  Galileo began noting and recording them in the sixteen hundreds.

Ok,   now lets look at some more physical evidence that shows a strong correlation with solar activity/climate change.

Two much newer and probably better proxy measures are Solar Flux and Average Magnetic Planetary Index (Ap index).


The former is a measure of noise or flux that is emitted at a frequency of 2800 MHz (10.7cm).  This measure is typically referred to as F10.7.  This proxy measures ionization in the ionosphere’s F region.    The solar wind from the Sun contains many atomic particles.  The Earth’s geomagnetic field deflects the majority of the protons and electrons being expelled from the Sun toward the Earth.  But the as the Sun’s activity increases more particles are expelled and more break through into the Earth’s ionosphere where F10.7 measures the increase.    Continuous F10.7 measurement and record maintenance began in 1947. As can be noted from the shape of the current (Nov. 2010) monthly summary chart of F10.7,   it is lagging the same point on the red line where the experts had predicted it would be at this time in Cycle 24.

And as we noted in Sun and Climate Part 2,  the forecast Cycle 24  has been  scaled down several times in the last few years in order to match actual real world results which have consistently come in below each new forecast.  Note that the level of F10.7  at the peak of Cycle 23 in 2001 and 2002 reached nearly 240.


The Sun’s magnetic field extends far out into space.  It not only surrounds Earth, it also extends well beyond Pluto.  The more powerful the Sun’s magnetic field, the more it alters the  Earth’s geomagnetic field.    The Ap index is measure of this alteration.   The Ap index measurements began in the 1930’s.   The chart  that follows shows the Ap index beginning in 2000 through most of  2010.  The peak in the 2003 -2004 time frame is Cycle 23.  The Solar activity was high during that time, reaching an Ap index of 35 at its peak.  In October 2005,  the Ap Index dropped significantly and has remained very low since then.

The  following chart shows the Ap index from October 2010  through the end of December 2010.  Note that the index has bottomed out at zero on several occasions.  This chart also illustrates the how well the Solar Flux, the Sunspot Number and the Ap Index  correlate.

(This chart was prepared by Jan Alvestad)

No one knows exactly the mechanism that causes the Earth to cool when these proxies are low or warm when they are up.  No one knows exactly why the Sun has 11 (+-) year cycles.  Maybe we will never learn enough to be able to predict accurately the future state of the solar activity.  If so,  we will never be able to accurately predict the Earth’s future climate.  But we can reasonably predict that the Earth’s climate will cool as long as these proxies stay low (below normal), indicating low solar activity.
Moreover, we can’t control solar activity.  We can’t control Earth’s orbit around the Sun.  The Sun is in charge of our climate.  Man has precious little control of the climate in the big picture.   Attempts to moderate the Earth’s climate through reduction of CO2, for example, will have limited to no effect on climate although it will have a profound negative impact on our economic well being .

Our efforts should be directed toward adaptation to what every the Sun dishes out.

For more on this topic see posting Part 1 and Part 2 of Sun And Climate.